Caulfield, Gareth

Caulfield, Gareth
Start date:
October 2022
Research Topic:
Exploring Immersion Education and its Role in Creating Balanced Welsh-English Bilinguals
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof Enlli Thomas and Dr Eirini Sanoudaki
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This project comes at a time where efforts are being made to substantially increase the number of Welsh speakers to a million by 2050. It considers the Welsh Government’s (2017: 21) notion that “Welsh-medium immersion education is our principal method for ensuring that children can develop their Welsh language skills, and for creating new speakers,” especially as the new curriculum being implemented from September 2022, the Curriculum for Wales, aims to equip children with the necessary skills to become citizens of a truly bilingual Wales (Welsh Government, 2020). Therefore, the aim of this research is to examine the role which immersion education plays in creating balanced bilinguals within the Welsh-English context and the various facets contributing to this. It hopes to highlight how immersion-based practices, environments and experiences can be adapted where necessary to produce high numbers of confident, bilingual speakers in an effective manner in the lead up to the Welsh Government’s 2050 target.
In order to achieve this aim, the research seeks to answer the following questions:
1. How do the language skills (with the aim to focus on both English and Welsh language skills) of children attending immersion education compare to those of both children who do not attend immersion education and native Welsh speakers they attend school with?
2. What are children’s attitudes towards Welsh, learning Welsh via education, towards minority languages, and their language use?
3. What are Welsh-medium/immersion teacher’s perceptions of pupils from non-Welsh speaking backgrounds?